Columbia, MO – The 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers open up play conference action at the Mizzou Arena.
Frank Haith's debut as the head coach of Missouri was a successful one, as the Tigers made light work of Southeast Missouri State in Friday's season-opener, 83-68. With some of the Big 12's elite teams facing uncertain 2011-12 seasons, the Tigers are very much in the picture in terms of the conference title.
Bob Huffman has a young team with the Bears this season, but got them off on the right foot with a 66-57 win over Emory on Saturday. The victory was the fifth straight season-opening win for the Bears. Mercer finished three games under .500 last season (15-18), but two games over that mark in Atlantic Sun play (11-9).
Missouri has won a school-record 59 straight non-conference games at home. The Tigers have won all three previous meetings between these two teams, although they haven't met in 15 years.
The Bears placed three players in double figures, as the team topped Emory on Saturday in Macon. Bud Thomas just missed a double-double, leading all scorers with 18 points, while grabbing nine rebounds. Daniel Coursey added 13 points in support, while Jakob Gollon just missed his own double-double with 10 points and nine boards. Mercer dominated in the paint, outscoring Emory 44-18 down low and holding a 44-30 rebounding advantage. In addition, Mercer held Emory to a mere 31.2 percent shooting overall, including just 24.0 percent from behind the arc (6-of-25).
The Tigers took a blow before the season began with the loss of talented forward Laurence Bowers to a knee injury, but the team seemed to not miss a beat in the opener against SEMO. Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe sported equally impressive performances, both posting 20 points and eight rebounds in the win. Kim English was right behind with 19 points, while Phil Pressey rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 points. An All-Big 12 selection, Denmon picked up right where he left off last season, as he has now scored 20 or more points in six of his last 10 games. In a contest that was 38-36 at the half, the home team turned up the heat over the final 20 minutes to cruise to victory.